All talks, written and delivered by Historical Society staff, are designed to be informative and enjoyable.
The length and content can be adapted to fit the requirements of various groups and/or locations.
All are Power Point presentations unless stated otherwise.
We can provide projector, projector table and laptop. We prefer to use the organization’s lectern and screen.
Speaker’s Fee: Please contact the Society for more information at 508-822-1622, or e-mail OldColony@oldcolonyhistoricalsociety.org.
This good introduction to the history of Taunton features historic images from the Society’s collection, reflecting Taunton’s development over time. The talk is interactive, with the speaker inviting the audience to name landmarks, and engaging in a discussion of social and economic factors, along with the rationale behind historic preservation. The program can be adapted for middle or high school students. (approximately 30 minutes)
An introduction to the research collections available to us at the Old Colony Historical Society and examples of where family history research can lead is presented by the Society’s Archivist and Library Manager. The talk can be adapted for specific types of research, such as using military records, researching particular ethnic backgrounds, and clues on how to break through that stone wall in your family search. (approximately 45 minutes)
The inscriptions on this boulder in the Taunton River have at times been attributed to the Phoenicians, Vikings, Portuguese, and American Indians. This illustrated talk discusses the theories and personalities that have ebbed around this mysterious rock for generations. (approximately 40 minutes)
The illustrated talk offers a stroll along Taunton’s Main Street during the mid to late 19th century. This presentation showcases both downtown businesses and the buildings in which they were located. (approximately 35 minutes)
The show explains through pictures the history of Taunton Green from both cultural and military perspectives, and then incorporates more modern memories of the Green collected from area residents. (approximately 45 minutes)
The illustrated talk shows the methods of harvesting, storing and sale of ice, a vital industry in pre-refrigerator days. The emphasis is on the business in general, with some local Taunton area firms receiving mention. (approximately 35 minutes)
With the moniker “Stove City” Taunton was home to many manufacturers of this essential household item. Some firms, such as the famous Glenwood Range Company, also took the cast iron stove design to artistic heights. This slide lecture chronicles the evolution of this very important area industry and its lasting influence on the city. (approximately 40 minutes)
The talk explores the life and work of Taunton industrialist William Mason, manufacturer of railroad locomotives and textile spinning looms, as well as Springfield rifles for the Civil War. He is perhaps the best example of how creativity built Taunton’s 19th century economy. (approximately 30 minutes)
The industry that gave Taunton the nickname “Silver City” and the history of Taunton’s famous Reed & Barton Silversmiths is shown within the context of historical trends of the day. Styles, local and national history, popular trends and decorative arts issues are emphasized. (approximately 40 minutes)
Through illustrations, artistic activity in the Taunton area is surveyed from the earliest known paintings through 1900. Discoveries of information about both the artists and those who patronized the arts is discussed. (approximately 45 minutes)
Follow Taunton’s children through their days of school, leisure time activities and even wage labor. Learn how the lives of rural children and immigrants differed from the lives of native city residents. This illustrated talk can be adapted for school-age children. (approximately 45 minutes for adults; approximately 25 minutes for children)
For generations, Taunton area children have been taught about the town’s “founding mother;” how this noblewoman left her native England for the wilderness of the New World in 1637, and about how she bought the land called Taunton from the Native Americans for a peck of beans and a jackknife. We are justifiably proud of our local heroine, but are we proud of her for the right reasons? Are we getting as accurate a view as we can of this 17th century person? This illustrated talk seeks to answer these questions and show how Mistress Pole’s legacy surrounds Tauntonians even today. (approximately 40 minutes)
This talk describes the origins of Taunton’s own Liberty & Union Flag, raised on Taunton Green on October 21, 1774. Many consider it to be the first patriotic flag in America. This is not an illustrated lecture. (approximately 40 minutes)
Written for 3rd-grade students, this illustrated talk introduces viewers to the important role Taunton played in the American Revolution. The story behind Taunton’s own Liberty and Union flag is told. Showing artifacts from the Historical Society’s collections, the talk can either be given in schools or as an introduction before a tour in the museum. (approximately 10 minutes)
Scrap drives, air raid drills, the Taunton Serviceman’s Club, and Victory gardens were all a part of city life during the war. This pictorial program captures the heroic effort made by the citizens of Taunton and surrounding towns to support an Allied victory between 1941 and 1945. Numerous local scenes illustrate home life, volunteering, industrial mobilization, and Camp Myles Standish. (approximately 40 minutes)
16. Toby Gilmore and Bristol County’s African-American Minutemen
Toby Gilmore of Raynham was a slave who gained his freedom by joining the Continental Army. Through some amazing survivals of artifacts, family stories, and documents, the OCHS was able to piece together the true story of this Revolutionary War hero. His life after the war is revealed through new additions to our archives, and his role in keeping the Revolutionary spirit alive is celebrated. The lives of several of his compatriots are touched upon, along with methods for research into military history. (approximately 45 minutes)
17. “Daring, Dauntless and Defiant:” Richard De Wert and the Korean War
The “Forgotten War” and its impact on the people of the Taunton region is remembered in this illustrated presentation. Naval Corpsman De Wert was a recipient of the highest military honor our nation can bestow, the Medal of Honor. The medal itself is on display in the Society’s Military History Room and many lasting monuments to Richard De Wert and Korean War soldiers remain. This presentation tells Corpsman De Wert’s story and how it was pieced together through family papers and genealogical research. (approximately 45 minutes)
This illustrated program discusses the rise of the Colonial Revival movement in decorative arts and architecture, with a focus on early 20th century preservation activity. The 1792 Nightingale-Brown House in Providence serves as a case study. (approximately 30 minutes)
Viewers will be escorted through a brief review of furniture in America, from the 17th century through the mid-19th century. Special emphasis is given to the Society’s Southeastern New England collections. When given at the Society, the lecture includes demonstrations of the actual pieces. (approximately 45 minutes)
Nationally renowned architect Richard Upjohn designed the Bristol Academy building in 1852, now the headquarters of the Old Colony Historical Society. He also designed over a dozen other projects in the Taunton area. The pictorial program reviews Upjohn’s background and surveys the handsome architectural legacy he left here. (approximately 30 minutes)
21. The Life of a Building: Historic Preservation at the Bristol Academy
The “life story” of our own historical society building is told through this Power Point presentation. The talk draws from varied sources such as historic photographs, archival drawings, original documents, and the physical evidence left in the building itself to reveal what people in the past wanted to say to people in the future via architecture. (approximately 45 minutes)
22. Keep the Character in Your Old House
Concentrating on practical tips for history-minded homeowners, this illustrated talk shows how to research a house using all available resources.
Uncovering clues left by physical evidence (by paint analysis, for example) or clues left through public and private records can teach much about previous inhabitants and their tastes. Identifying character-defining features of a house and how to save or recover them is a theme throughout, with a survey of American architectural styles along the way. (approximately 45 minutes)
This documentary produced and directed by Susan McGrath follows the life and times of the oldest continuously-operated airport in Massachusetts, the Taunton Municipal Airport - King Field. The narrated film follows the King family from green fields to blue skies, from 1919 through 1960 and beyond. The DVD is also available for sale. (approximately 80 minutes)
24. The Civil War Comes to Norton
A live dramatic reading of five letters by two women of the Wrigley family is accompanied by a pictorial presentation to bring the pivotal year of 1864 to life for today’s participants. The context for each letter is explained, along with encouragement for questions and impressions following each reading. (approximately 45 minutes)
Through archival pictures, view the famous Taunton Green decorated in celebration of the holiday season, from the 1920s through the present. Learn about the origins of this local tradition, begun in 1914, and the stories behind these creative and festive displays. (approximately 30 minutes)
This pictorial presentation looks into cherished holiday traditions and how they were celebrated in the past in our region, such as hanging stockings by the chimney, sending greeting cards, and baking Christmas puddings. Local Christmas cards and archival photographs make for a sparkling show. (approximately 30 minutes)